Are You Ready for Mobilegeddon?

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Even if traffic to your website has not yet been stalled by Google’s recent algorithm changes, eventually it will if it is not optimized for mobility. Yesterday marked what some were dubbing “Mobilegeddon,” an algorithm change in which Google began lowering sites it does not deem to be mobile friendly. Sooner or later, many businesses will take a hit in their SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

 “When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps,” a post on the Google Webmaster Blog reads. While this is good news for consumers, it may mean a noticeable drop in rankings for businesses accustomed to appearing at the top.

However, it is important to note the change will only impact rankings performed on mobile devices, i.e., smartphones, which now generate nearly half of all search traffic. Searches performed on desktops, laptops and tablets will not be affected, and, as yesterday indicated, the judging won’t hit every site on the worldwide web like a tsunami wave of destruction.

Contrary to previous, tightly held secrets concerning algorithms, this marks the first time Google has announced a change in advance (two months to be precise) to give webmasters time to right their mobility wrongs. According to Google, these can include:

  • Font that is too small
  • Menu items that are too close together
  • Java script issues
  • Flash video that won’t quickly load
  • Irrelevant cross-links or broken links
  • General slowness.

There are numerous other criteria to be aware of if you want your site to be found by smartphone users, and Google has done a good job of providing lots of helpful tips and details, even providing guides specific to the software used to build the site, such as WordPressBlogger and Joomla!, among others. They also provide a fast, easy mobile-friendly test to see how your website stacks up. Don’t be too embarrassed if your site fails; 40% of the leading sites failed in preliminary testing. One important step to remember after optimizing your site for mobility is to alert the search engines that you have done so.

As is often the case with change, ironically, especially so with free Internet offerings, this has sparred debate. Some believe the change is to further derail competitors; just weeks ago the European Union accused the company’s search engines of showing favoritism to Google Shopping, its price-comparison service. Others believe it is completely unnecessary as smartphones become bigger, brighter, and increasingly more capable. As it is, many devices already do not render sites that are not mobile friendly.

Regardless, making your site easier to read and navigate—by users as well as search engines—is just good business. So get busy getting your website up to speed before search engines—and customers—stop finding you.

Caitlin Schlichting is the co-founder and CEO of Digital Fire, an online marketing company, and is also a teacher and trainer on the subjects of digital marketing.

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